Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dr Lim Teck Ghee responds to Dr Chandra

Note : Dr CM will be wasting his time dealing with DR LTG. This chap is not interested with relating what is real and telling the truth. He is interested in painting the worst possible picture of the BN government - another case of bodohpolitik. Notice he did not even acknowledge the fact that Dr CM gives evidence about postal votes. Dr CM is interested in showing both the good and bad of a particular situation – be it BN or PR. Dr CM is interested in telling the truth.

Dr. LTG, on the other hand, is interested in twisting and turning information to piece together concocted half-truths to win an argument - typical of a person without conscience. Take where he said that Dr CM “has been at pains to show that he has been consistent over the past decades in his stance on the major issues facing the country” – he fails to point out that it is a person like himself who has been trying to say Dr CM is not consistent. But when Dr CM explains and corrects him, he suggests that Dr CM is the one trying hard to prove his position - LOL!

I have produced a collection of Dr CM’s writings from the 70s to 2007 – you can see for yourselves if he is consistent or not. I am willing to do the same for Dr LTG. Let us collect his writings since the time he was working for MCA to date. Let us see if he is consistent. If he is not, than perhaps if MCA offers him a handsome contract today, he may just be pro BN again :)

Anas Zubedy 

Dr Lim Teck Ghee’s reply to Dr Chandra Muzaffar’s invitation by CPI asia

I thank Chandra for responding to my commentary on his lambasting of Bersih 3.0.

Although the Center for Policy Initiatives (CPI) is reproducing his response in full, there is really very little new in the engagement.

Basically Chandra has rehashed his arguments on the far-reaching changes to human rights and political and civil liberties that he sees taking place in the country.

In his initial article he was very emphatic on these changes maintaining that
“[I]t is an irrefutable fact that through these legislative reforms [Peaceful Assembly Act, ISA repeal, etc] the space and scope for the expression and articulation of human rights has been expanded and enhanced as never before.”

Disappearance of “Irrefutable Fact” 

I had challenged this argument and pointed out that these reforms need implementation and confirmation from the ground to ascertain what has been gained and whether they are substantive in the context of a regime which has an extraordinary capacity for employing dirty tricks in order to remain in power, including manipulating the electoral process.

I had proposed that should Chandra, after conducting rigorous social science research – publish the results confirming this “irrefutable fact”, it may perhaps help convince sceptics that there have been “far-reaching changes to political and civil liberties”.

Although he has not yet conducted the necessary research, it is good to note that the term “irrefutable fact” has now disappeared in his latest opinion piece. Perhaps Chandra now realizes that his initial depiction was not only inappropriate but also indefensible.

Meaningful political change

Chandra now terms the political changes as “meaningful” and has invited me to debate with him on the subject “Are the political changes that are taking place in Malaysia today significant?”
His new suggestion touches on an important topic and I welcome it.  My own position is that it is premature to read too much in the changes to date. There are many examples from history of authoritarian regimes taking one step forward and two backwards, and engaging in foot dragging, sabotage and even more extreme forms of resistance in response to democratization pressures.
Our own history has taught us to be cautious in being over-optimistic with the current reforms.  The Prime Minister (see my article: Peaceful transition of power: Open letter to all political parties), senior Umno leaders, and other extremist nationalists have served notice – sometimes subtly; on other occasions more openly – that all means may be used to prevent the peaceful transition of power. The possibility of these political reforms being tactical and a ruse aimed at buying time is entirely plausible.

Many other political analysts and ordinary citizens have also been sceptical that these changes that Chandra has written about are sufficiently deep and game-changing.  Questions have been asked if they have fundamentally altered the authoritarian system imposed by the Barisan Nasional and if they reflect changes in the anti-democratic character of some of the BN’s leadership. It is here that Chandra and I differ profoundly but unlike him, I do not think it is an issue that can be resolved over the debating table.

I must also put it on record that even if the opposition were to come to power during the next elections, pressure would have to continue to be exercised on the new government to build a more robust parliamentary democracy.

In the Spirit of Merdeka declaration of 2007 which was endorsed by a large number of civil society organizations, there was a call for the establishment of a strong democracy in which the separation of power of the executive, legislative and judiciary is maintained, and checks and balances preventing the monopoly or abuse of power by the executive branch are in place.
The declaration also called for the enhancement of human rights and basic freedoms that are based upon values of participation, accountability, transparency, equality and diversity. Six major areas of reform were identified.

If we compare the reforms undertaken recently with the full list identified in the declaration, it can be seen that we have a long journey ahead in the struggle for human rights and democracy. In particular, areas such as the establishment of political and administrative neutrality in key institutions such as the judiciary, the civil service, police, Election Commission, the Attorney General’s office; and ensuring independence in a host of other institutions and processes in the society, and not just the electoral process, are still lagging.

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